Marketing action plan

How can you turn a PR crisis into success

The old saying, “No PR is bad PR,” has been put to the test the past few weeks with the PR circus surrounding Amy’s Baking Company. The Scottsdale restaurant generated local and national press after the restaurant and its owners were featured on Gordon Ramsay’s reality show, Kitchen Nightmares. Ramsay found the problems with the food, the service and the owners’ management practices. .  It was so terrible that Ramsay actually walked off the show, a first in the show’s history.

Following the episode airing on May 10, the story went viral with social media including a frenzy of posts on the restaurant’s Facebook page.  The owners, Amy and Sammy Bouzaglo responded with controversial posts and claimed their social media pages were hacked. The media stories continue with many weighing in on the bistro’s chance for survival. By the same token their “Likes” are now up to 102 thousand on Facebook, and a post-show re-grand opening event generated more news articles, TV coverage, and is rumored to have prompted 1000 reservations for diners in the coming weeks. Whether this was or was not an intentional PR stunt, we may never know; but we do know that the negative PR also generated positives.

Is this a PR recipe for disaster or does Amy’s Baking Company have the ingredients it needs for PR success?

As publicity goes, a successful PR campaign should help increase awareness. If the public didn’t know about this place before, it is safe to say a majority of Arizonans and beyond have now heard of Amy’s Baking Company. A PR campaign should also help increase social media interaction and engagement. The skyrocketing growth of Facebook “Likes” and trending on Twitter certainly demonstrates success there. A good PR campaign should also help increase web traffic and traffic in the door. While we do not have access to the company’s Google analytics, it is reasonable to expect its web traffic rose considerably. We also know from the news coverage, that a number of curious new customers filled tables and attracted interested bystanders during the restaurant’s re-grand opening event.

After all is said and done the secret ingredient for long-term PR success will be  the restaurant’s ability to deliver the goods. Amid all the media attention, including the negative talk, Amy’s Baking Company has a small window here to reach a big audience. If they can actually offer good food and good service, they can change the public’s perception and the conversation. Thanks to the PR they now have a tremendous opportunity to generate new business and fill their place beyond the initial curious.

The same secret holds true for any business when it comes to PR. Most of the time a proactive PR campaign is implemented to produce positive news coverage. But even under the best circumstances when a company is featured in a business profile or an executive is quoted as an expert in industry related news, the true success of PR rests on the company’s ability to “walk their talk.” It’s not enough to say Company “X” has the most innovative “Y.” For PR to have a positive, lasting impact, company “X” needs to deliver the innovative product or service they claim to offer, continue to do so and continue to let the public know.

In a world where customers can post reviews, comment or share information 24/7, having a strategic and proactive PR campaign has never been more important.  For businesses to successfully utilize PR, it begins and ends with providing a good customer experience.

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Juliet Straker

About Juliet Straker

Juliet Straker is president of marketingworx, a Phoenix-based public relations and marketing communications firm founded in 2002. For more information on marketingworx and its services visit www.marketingworxpr.com.